Is it wrong to regift? My uncle just came back from Hong Kong and brought me a very expensive green tie with red zigzags. I would not be caught dead wearing it. But I have a friend with the same taste as my uncle who would love it, and it’s his birthday next week. Is there any issue with me passing it on, rather than letting it gather dust in my closet?


You need to think this through.

A gift is given to be yours. That means you can do with it whatever you wish. If you want to use the tie as a dishrag, sell it on eBay or make it your dog’s scarf, no one can stop you.

But a gift is not just a gift; it is a sentiment, a thought, a feeling. Your uncle may have personally picked this tie out for you, thinking you would appreciate it. If he then sees it on your dog or on your friend or on eBay, he may be hurt. It is not the tie you have rejected, it is his thoughtfulness.

Then again, maybe he wouldn’t care, or would never find out. Even so, there is an additional concern when you pass on a gift to a friend. You are fooling your friend. When he receives this expensive tie from you, he will feel indebted to you for your generosity. He will feel he must reciprocate when it is your birthday, and buy you something of real value. And unless he has an uncle who shares your fine taste, that may cost him.

By regifting the tie to your friend, you are scoring unfair points. He thinks you are being gracious by giving him such a valuable gift, when in actual fact you are dumping your unwanted merchandise on him. The Talmud calls this “stealing someone’s goodwill.”

So regifting may be perfectly kosher, but before you regift, ask yourself the following questions: Will anyone be hurt by my actions? Was this gift bought with me in mind, or could it have gone to anyone? Will anyone be misled?

You may have good taste in ties, but you don’t want to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.